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Mike Stevens | Mar 4, 2009

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Last Friday, The Motor Report attended the press day of the 2009 Melbourne Motor Show to bring you the big news and unveillings as they happened. However, there was one big reveal that was noticeable by its absence: that of the Mazda3 MPS.

Thanks to Mazda’s desire to feature a simultaneous debut of its latest performance offering with the Geneva Motor Show, Melbourne Motor Show visitors have had to wait until today to see the Mazda3 MPS in the flesh.

So of course, I packed my camera once again and trotted down to Jeff’s Shed to take a look.

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The 2009 Mazda3 MPS promises to be a simply mental experience for any who choose to buy one, with the previous generation’s MZR 2.3 litre DISI engine punching 191kW (256hp) and 380Nm (280lb-ft) of torque through the front wheels.

Zero to 100km/h can be knocked on its arse in 6.1 seconds, as the Mazda3 MPS storms to a top speed of 250km/h.

Triple-cone synchros on the first three gears means the new MPS’ transmission offers an improved shifting feel, while wider gear ratios allow the driver to get the most out of the big torque band.

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The 2009 Mazda3 MPS’ body benefits from reinforcements and increased rigidity, with the centre tunnel and cowl member receiving added gussets to that end.

It’s simply a new animal – nothing has been left untouched. The sway bars are thicker, the bushings harder, and the spring and damper rates stiffer. Huge 320mm discs on the front and 280mm discs to the rear ensure the brakes will pull you up in good order, and electronic brake assist is there to help.

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From a styling perspective, Mazda's designers have hit a six (err... three?) with the new 3 MPS. While the now familiar Mazda family smile is slapped across its face, this time it's a smile of murderous intent, rather than the gleeful cheeriness of the regular Mazda3.

A glossy MPS badge sits prominently on the side of the smile, like a chunk of bullet shrapnel caught in the teeth of a deranged supervillian.

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The bonnet scoop streaks back toward the wind screen and sinks deep into the body of the bonnet, rather than rising up too far into the driver's field of view. The same aggressive, deliberate nature is present in its design, without it being a visual hindrance from behind the wheel.

The rear end is perhaps a little tamer than the rest of the 3 MPS' aesthetic offerings, with only a (admittedly sizeable) roof spoiler sitting above a huge bumper, which bears a pair of moderate exhaust tips protruding from a par-for-the-course glossy grey faux diffuser.

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The attendants at the Mazda stand weren't ready to let anyone cosy up behind the steering wheel just yet (even the good ol' press), but there's nothing in there we haven't all seen. Similarly, the engine bay was strictly off limits.

We’ve covered the Mazda3 MPS plenty in the past, but there’s also the press release below for those seriously considering taking the plunge.

Gallery

PRESS RELEASE

2009 Mazda3 MPS

Sharing the spotlight in Geneva is the next-generation Mazda3 MPS, one of the world’s most powerful front-wheel drive compact cars. It takes the all-new Mazda3 hatchback as its base and raises it to new levels of driving excitement with an updated MZR 2.3-litre DISI* turbo petrol engine, increased body shell rigidity and an evolved suspension. To this it adds exclusive design cues and materials to deliver a next-generation compact flagship that is even more fun to own and drive than the current model.

On top of its high performance level – one of the best in the category – the all-new Mazda3 MPS was developed according to Mazda’s long-term vision for technology development. Advanced Mazda engine and catalytic converter technologies mean the new model has an optimized power delivery, uses less fuel, and has cleaner emissions than the previous Mazda3 MPS model.

Design – A More Expressive and Dynamic Design

The design theme for the all-new Mazda3 called on the development team to evolve the model’s visual identity to create a sportier, more aggressive appearance. The end result is a more emotionally appealing design that takes the sporty, agile compact nature of the all-new Mazda3 hatchback to a new level of sporty refinement.

Exterior Design

Front end

A new air intake for the intercooler is introduced to the centre of the all-new Mazda3 MPS bonnet, hinting at the power underneath. The front fender and front bumper designs are exclusive to the MPS, while subtle intonation added to the surface and character lines give the exterior an expressive and dynamic flair. The front grille and lower bumper sections share the same black metallic paint finish. These are framed by cylindrical bi-xenon headlamps and round fog lamps, to underscore the car’s premium character (standard or option, depending on market).

Silhouette and rear end

At the sides, subtle wedge-shaped and curving side character lines, along with a side under spoiler, accentuate the car’s sporty, low centre of gravity. The view from the rear features a large floating rear spoiler (depending on market) that balances out the tight look begun by the new front end and adds to the compact’s aggressive image. LED tail lamps have an inner lens that adds a sense of greater transparency when the lamps are not lit.

One the segment’s best for aerodynamic performance

The all-new Mazda3 MPS has an exterior design that continues the current model’s top aerodynamic performance. Beginning with the all-new Mazda3 5-door hatchback, which has one of the segment’s lowest coefficients of drag, MPS developers added a number of exterior features optimised for aerodynamic efficiency. These include the large front and rear bumpers, a large floating rear roof spoiler and front under spoiler. The result is aerodynamic performance that provides stability and easy control when travelling straight, changing lanes, or overtaking other vehicles at high speeds. The shape of the A-pillars and door mirrors were also designed keeping aerodynamic efficiency in mind, while increased rigidity around the door sashes, delivers improved sealing of the doors to reduce wind noise.

Aerodynamic performance – All-New Mazda3 MPS

Cd value Coefficient lift (front) Coefficient lift (rear) Front projection area

0.32 0.03 0.03 2.217m2

Wheels and tyres

Mazda introduces all-new 18-inch (18 x 7.5J) aluminium alloy wheels designed exclusively for the Mazda3 MPS using the same design theme as the Mazda RX-8 wheels. These have a strong, three-dimensional form that helps the car look nimble and aggressive when seen from the side.

Interior design

Front seat area

The dashboard of the new Mazda3 MPS is designed to give a roomy feel at the front. This is combined with a large centre console and a driver-orientated, wrap-around cockpit with just the right feeling of snugness. Exacting calculation was applied to designing the slant of the centre console and in positioning the gearshift lever closer to the driver.

New turbo boost gauge

The hoodless independent blackout speedometer and tachometer express sportiness through their design. The tachometer features a red MPS logo and a needle that travels 260 degrees as opposed to the 190-degree rotation on other Mazda3 models. The instrument cluster for the all-new MPS also includes an LED turbo boost gauge positioned between the meters, which heightens the car’s high-performance feel.

Semi-bucket front seats

The all-new MPS provides semi-bucket front seats for a great fit and exceptional torso and thigh support, a real must in a car this sporty. The front edge of the seat cushions is enlarged to improve the fit under the thighs, and the seatback length is extended to provide greater support. The MPS upholstery features an exclusive black base colour with a red graphic design and red stitching.

Materials and colour

Developers were careful in selecting materials and surface finishes for the interior that will excite the driver and passengers every time they take a seat in the car. Black is the keynote colour employed throughout the interior, while the seats and trim fabric have an organic red graphic design. This MPS-exclusive design is distributed throughout, with red stitching enhancing the sporty interior character on the steering wheel, seats, door trim, shift lever boot, and centre armrest.

Powertrain – Exhilarating Driving and Euro Stage V Compliance

The power and easy-to-control torque characteristics of the new Mazda3 MPS turbo petrol engine are combined with an optimised gear ratio that ensures smooth shift operation for sporty driving. This is matched to a stiffer body, a suspension system with greater damping strength, Mazda’s electro-hydraulic power assisted steering (EHPAS), as well as specially tuned brakes. Together, they deliver a high-performance package with precise, controllable handling, and powerful braking that is fun to drive on a daily basis.

Engine – high-performance DISI technology

The all-new Mazda3 MPS is powered by Mazda’s MZR 2.3L DISI Turbo, a high-power inline 4-cylinder petrol engine. This acclaimed engine has been further refined and now delivers a maximum output of 191 kW/260 PS at 5,500 rpm and the same generous maximum torque of 380 Nm at 3,000 rpm than the current model. This represents one the world’s highest level of performance in a front-engine front-wheel drive sports compact.

High-performance compact

Pairing direct-injection with a turbocharger allows the engine to achieve performance that is on par with a larger displacement engine. Realising the right balance between lightweight and high rigidity through the effective use of high-tensile steel sheeting – including 1,480 MPa ultra-high tensile steel – means the new MPS body shell easily supports the top speed of 250 km/h and acceleration of 0-100 km/h in just 6.1 seconds.

Reduced fuel consumption and Euro Stage V

Yet, the new Mazda3 MPS also delivers surprisingly good environmental performance and fuel efficiency for a car with this kind of power. Optimised aerodynamics helps reduce fuel consumption from 9.7L/100 km on the previous model to 9.2L/100 km on the all-new Mazda3 MPS. Also newly introduced is the world’s first single-nanotechnology, fast-reacting catalytic converter under the floor, which delivers cleaner emissions and Euro Stage V compliance.

High torque from direct-injection

The latent heat of vaporization generated by the MZR 2.3L Turbo when atomized fuel is injected directly into a cylinder at pressures of up to 11.5 MPa reduces the temperature in the combustion chamber (in-cylinder cooling effect) and improves air-fuel mixture charging efficiency. When compared to turbo engines injecting fuel via regular intake ports, this approach increases torque of the new Mazda3 MPS by up to about 10 percent at around 3,000 rpm. This realizes a smooth flat torque profile with plenty of power that is easy to control using a single-scroll turbo charger. The intercooler is the same size as on the previous model, but the new air intake mounted on the hood delivers a supply of cool air that better ensures stable cooling performance.

Advanced torque management

The stiffness of the left and right drive shafts is optimized to minimize torque steer. Engine optimizations help to make this powerful, high-torque front-wheel drive vehicle easier to handle when enjoying a sporty drive. These measures include intake volume and boost pressure control that suppresses sudden torque peaks for smoother, more linear torque characteristics and steering angle sensors (all gears).

6-speed manual transmission

The transmission of the new Mazda3 MPS uses a compact, three-shaft design that keeps the overall length the same as a 5-speed manual transmission. It uses a wide gear ratio setting that can fully exploit the wide torque band of the DISI Turbo engine, with a sixth gear that contributes to a quieter ride and improved fuel economy when driving at high speed. Each gear is set to a higher speed total gear ratio than on the previous model. Of particular note is the natural feel of shifting between first and second gear as the car picks up speed, as well as the smooth feel of successive shifts while accelerating.

Triple-cone synchronizers for first, second and third gears and a double-cone synchronizer for fourth gear optimize the amount of strength required to make shifts and establish the right balance between a short, responsive stroke and pleasing feel to gearshift operation. In addition, the transmission uses low-viscosity fluid, which greatly reduces the effort required for shifting when the engine is cold.

Chassis – Safe and Predictable

High body rigidity and specially tuned suspension

Based on the highly rigid body of the Mazda3 5-door hatchback, the all-new MPS version adds reinforcements inside the front cowl member gussets to strengthen the joints between the rear suspension towers and rear floorboard, and employs a large tunnel member. These and other local reinforcements effectively increase body rigidity and greatly improve the new model’s dynamic robustness.

Suspension system

The coil spring rates for both the MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension are modified exclusively for the MPS. Special tuning to support the high power of the MPS and provide satisfying driving performance also includes the introduction of larger diameter stabilizers than on the new Mazda3 base model, and an increased span for the stabilizer mounts to achieve greater roll linearity. Special dampers for the MPS increase damping strength and combine with the coil springs and stabilizers to achieve higher roll stiffness than on the base model.

Newly-developed tyres

The Dunlop 225/40R18 tyres for the MPS are wider than on the previous model. By improving the grip of the tyres, the rigidity of their sidewalls and damping strength – along with the systems that bear the input from the tires, including body rigidity, suspension rigidity, and steering support rigidity – the new Mazda3 MPS delivers response with a more direct feel, and a stronger sense of oneness between the driver and car. The result is a sporty drive that is more precise than on the previous model, even at high speeds. It delivers better response, greater stability and a flatter ride with fewer undulations, even when entering sharp curves or traversing wavy road surfaces. To ensure this, extensive high-speed test drives were conducted at Germany’s Nürburgring.

Steering updates and EHPAS

The new Mazda3 MPS now employs three highly rigid steering gear mount bushings instead of the two used on the previous model. The system also features electro-hydraulic power assisted steering (EHPAS), which adjusts control in accordance with vehicle speed and steering angle to realize precise, solid response for an outstanding feel to steering wheel operation. Control is set for more accurate response to vehicle speed, providing a lighter feeling at slower speeds and a firmer, confidence-inspiring feeling at higher speeds. Steering is direct and sharp at just 2.7 turns from lock to lock.

Robust brakes and new electronic brake assist

Large diameter 320 mm ventilated disc brakes in the front and 280 mm solid discs in the rear combine with an 8+9 inch tandem brake booster and 1-inch large diameter master cylinder to realize powerful and stable braking. Electronic brake assist replaces the previous mechanical system, and four-wheel ABS and DSC are also standard equipment.

New Mazda3 MPS dimensions and specifications for EU

(Subject to homologation)

Model name Mazda3 MPS

Dimensions

Overall length mm 4,505

Overall height mm 1,460

Overall width mm 1,770

Wheelbase mm 2,640

Treads (front/rear) mm 1,535 /1,520

Luggage capacity l 300 with Bose® System

Drive train FWD

Engine MZR 2.3-litre DISI Turbo

Displacement cm³ 2,261

Bore x stroke mm 87.5 x 94.0

Fuel tank capacity l 60

Max. output kW/PS 191/260 at 5,500 rpm

Max. torque Nm 380 at 3,000 rpm

Fuel consumption *

Combined l/100km 9.2

Urban l/100km 13.5

Extra urban l/100km 7.5

Emissions ranking Euro Stage V

Exhaust system single-nanotechnology

Transmission 6-speed manual transmission

Differential Torque-sensing Limited Slip Differential

Performance

Max. speed km/h 250

0-100km/h (EU) s 6.1

Steering Electro-hydraulic power assisted system

Turn lock-to-lock 2.7

Min. turning circle m 11

Suspension, front MacPherson strut

Suspension, rear Multi-link

Coil spring rate, front N/mm 26.8

Coil spring rate, rear N/mm 29.9

Dampers, front Twintube

Dampers, rear Monotube

Stabilizer diameter, front mm 26

Stabilizer diameter, rear mm 25

Front brake type, diameter mm Ventilated discs, 320

Rear brake type, diameter mm Solid discs, 280

Coefficient of drag Cd 0.32

Brake booster 8” + 9” tandem booster & large 1” diameter master cylinder

Tyres, wheels Dunlop 225/40 R18, 18x7.5J

Get the best deal on this car!
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